So the final piece of the motherhood jigsaw has fallen into place – the last singleton pleasure usurped by the wishes of two tearaway toddlers. Gone are the lazed holidays by a sun-drenched beach…… now are the crazed holidays by a rain-drenched beach.
We are having a ‘staycation’ as the recession-minded media are calling them. And we’re not just holidaying in Ireland. Oh no… we’re braving the wilds of the most rugged island off the west coast of Ireland… there’s nothing between us and America but a few hostile weather fronts and the Atlantic Ocean. And don’t we know it. “It’ll be an adventure!” we thought. Mmm. We had to abandon the tent on the first night due to ‘adverse’ weather conditions… otherwise known as a bloody big storm. Now, securely sleeping in a rather more stable structure, our Achill Island adventure is rather more the Wild Wild West than Dora goes Exploring.
My beach body has been replaced by beached whale body as I comfort eat between rainstorms. Who needs sunburn when scorch marks from a blazing fire at night scar our shins just the same? Who needs expensive Spa facials when sandstorms and North Atlantic howling winds take two layers of skin off for free? Who needs cooling cocktail umbrellas when you can throw your inside-out umbrella in the bin and surrender to the elements? Trapped in a small (we’re calling it ‘bijou’) holiday cottage, rain pounding the windows in relentless laughter as we try and entertain two children who have yet to unwrap that “we’re on holiday, we’re meant to be relaxing” gene, hubby and I keep looking at each other with a look that can only mean one thing…. Next year we are so going abroad. To the sun. And a fun park. It’s really amazing how much one bedraggled eyebrow can say.
But then again, part of me is delighted with our little adventure. Isn’t this what it’s all about? Isn’t this what we experienced as children, and didn’t it make us, well, more robust? Achill has probably never been called balmy, so today we were probably barmy as we ran onto the deserted golden beach (the best thing about Ireland is the beaches, the worst thing about Ireland is its rarely warm enough to enjoy them) the second the sun scurried out from behind a cloud, as it eagerly shone on us before the next grey sky descended. We might have had 15 layers of clothes on, but that sun was shining so we were going to enjoy it! The girls ran up and down the beach like manic munchkins, danced with the waves and collected shells. Daisy hasn’t stopped singing and talking since we got here, running from one rock to another in boundless energetic excitement. I even braved the fiendishly cold Atlantic Ocean and went for a swim. It was cold yes, but it was exhilarating in a way I’ve barely felt since childhood. We explored the rock pools and threw clumps of soggy seaweed at each other, then we wrapped ourselves in towels, added another three layers of clothes and headed to the nearest pub for some fine Irish seafood – thick warm chowder swarming with prawns, fishcakes crammed with salmon and trout, scampi as fresh as the fish we just left in the rockpools. Stuffed to our gills, we rolled home, sand stuck in places sand is not meant to be, faces ruddy, and exhausted in that way only wild windy days can make you. The kids are asleep upstairs, sleepy smiles settled on their weather beaten faces. Hubby and I are cradling cups of warm wine by a smokey turf fire. Even the wind has mellowed. The sun may not be shining on our holiday, but the girls’ sunshine is making it a scorcher. That said…. Where’s the ClubMed brochure for next year?